Comment: A look back at 2018

Past, present, and future

Opinion, Comment & analysis, Hotelier middle east awards

2018 has been an interesting year for the hospitality market in the region. The growth has showed no signs of slowing with UAE registering nearly 2,500 keys open by the third quarter this year. Dubai took the lion share of the opening with 98% according the MENA quarterly review released by Colliers International.

However, in terms of occupancy rates, the region showed a dip in performance. Compared to Q3 2017, UAE showed a dip in occupancy rates across the board. Dubai’s occupancy went down by 1%, Abu Dhabi by 3%, Sharjah dipped by 8%, Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) suffered a 12% drop while Fujairah suffered a 24% dip in occupancy. As for average daily rates, Abu Dhabi saw a 5% increase in average daily rates while Dubai incurred a 9% dip compared to Q3 2017. Sharjah went down by 13%, RAK by 5% and Fujairah by 11%.

Year-to-date in August 2018, Abu Dhabi reported a 5.8% increase in inbound tourists while Dubai saw only a 0.4% growth during the same period. However both emirates will continue to visit double digit growth in Chinese visitors, the report noted. Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, Jeddah and Dammam/Khobar recorded a positive Q3 occupancy growth of 7% and 18% respectively compared to the performance in 2017.

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Egypt is on the path to recovery and in Q3, saw improvement in occupancy and ADR with double digit growth in the markets. Across Kuwait City, Manama in Bahrain, Muscat and Jordan’s capital Amman, a total of 3,500 keys entered these market on the whole.  With Muscat, Oman seeing the majority of the openings. The region expects to see 800 more keys to open by the end of the year.

But with growing number of properties and rooms, it means growing number of hoteliers to run those hotels in the region. While the oversupply is putting pressure on the key performance indicators, the talent pool has stayed as dynamic as ever.

In a survey by conducted by CatererGlobal.com, which surveyed 21,000 hospitality workers across 107 nationalities, UAE-based respondents cited that career progression and training and development as the most significant factors when considering new career opportunities and the “sense of camaraderie and teamwork” ranking most highly regarding job satisfaction once in a steady role.

Another point the survey noted was that among European respondents, Brexit has triggered significant movement across Europe with “27% foreseeing potential for employment outside of the EU. This presents a positive opportunity for UAE employers to take advantage of an expanded talent pool” according to CatererGlobal.com director Neil Pattison.

With all these openings and career movements, hoteliers in the region have been resilient while also improving the industry by providing quality guest service.

In the December issue, we take a look back at the Hotelier Middle East Awards 2018, a ‘Taste of India’ themed affair that took place on October 24, 2018 at the Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre. At the event, we recognised quality first approach. This year, we received more than 400 entries across 18 different categories and the energy at the venue was palpable.

We added a new category to recognise the best Mid-Market Hotel of the Year and the team from Rove Dubai Marina walked away with the trophy. Azar Saliba, the general manager at Jumeirah al Naseem, Dubai (cover) took home the best General Manager of the Year title for his effective leadership skills.

However, the highlight of the night was watching reaction from the team from The Ritz-Carlton Riyadh when they realised they won the Hotel Team of the Year for their resilience in the midst of the property shutting down for government use for a prolonged period.

The growing industry shows no signs of slowing down and leaves me to wonder what we can expect from the region next year…

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